In Which Elena-Mercifully-Goes to the Bank: Part 3

(Previously, in part 1 of this joyous little pilgrimage, I had to deal with Construction but found something to laugh about, on the way to the bank.

In part 2, there was nothing to laugh about, except that a pilgrimage should have emotional significance. There were definitely significant emotions occurring.)

August

Remember that bank that was being built, right near my apartment? The one you could see right through to the other side?

In the middle of August, I decide to investigate this further. I had found several online reviews lauding this exact location for its excellent service and friendly atmosphere. These are not the sort of reviews one leaves, no matter how rapturous one is feeling, for a pile of dirt. No. I am suspicious, and set out on my trusty bicycle (read: squeaky beyond embarrassment) to see for myself.

I squeal my way over to the Construction Bank site, sounding like the PedalPub for crazed chipmunks. Pedestrians leave the sidewalk when they hear me coming. Instead of stopping and lamenting the construction site when I get there, I decide to keep going around the bend.

I round the corner, and there–there, ladies and gentlemen–there sits the bank. Tucked just behind the under-construction bank, calmly, where it has clearly been doing business for years.

I’m sure you can join me in imagining the rest–me parking my bike in a real parking lot, me walking into a real bank during real hours, me being provided excellent service in a friendly atmosphere by real people, me rending my garments in the lobby from grief, from pain, from the sheer exasperation that this institution has caused me, me being escorted forcibly by excellent friendly service people from the building, me and my chipmunk bike driving the whole 200 yards home.

For those of us who like visual things, recall that this is where I went:

And–my computer cannot even put the stars close enough together to demonstrate this to scale–this is where I needed to be:

The length of this distance is what we call a “blip.”

Time spent on transaction, including bicycle ride: 10 minutes.

Distance traveled: approximately 193,280,010 yards more than necessary.

I feel like there should be something profound about all this–maybe some zen-like statement about ending where you started from, or the beauty of a pilgrimage that brings you home at last. I don’t feel profound or enlightened.

I feel like an idiot.

But now I am an idiot with a bank.

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In Which Elena Goes to the Bank: Part 2

Previously, on Bank Pilgrimages

[car radio sounds, honking, construction]

Elena: [steering] If you wanted it to be a one-way street, why didn’t you say it was a one-way street?!?

Stoplight: [RED.] Don’t Walk. Don’t Walk. Don’t Walk.

Elena: [in line at the bank, happily] It’s all so space age! [Girl behind her in line edging away, giving weird look]

Fifteen cars behind Elena at a confusing intersection: Honk. Honk. Honk. Honk. Honnnnnnk. Honkhonkhonkhonkhonk.

Join us now for Elena Goes to the Bank: A Pilgrimage, part 2.

July

Once again, I decide I need to go to the bank. (Really, if we’re being honest, this was my first mistake. Who needs to go to the bank?) I have several checks to deposit. (A happy problem, for most people, but one I nevertheless could have ignored in relatively peaceful poverty.) I decide to combine it with another errand, and look it all up on Google Maps ahead of time.

So first I do my errand.

I’ve used my extensive artistic ability to demonstrate the journey for you all:

I arrive, no problem, in less time than the internet estimated for me. I even leave with free potatoes from the Salvation Army next door. Who’s complaining? Nobody, that’s who.

Next, I carefully look at the map, to go to (what I think is) the same location I went to last time. How hard can this be? I start off toward the bank.

The bank starts off, too, and moves several blocks over. At least, that’s the only thing I can figure, because I swear my navigational skills are good. Really. I carefully drive to the exact intersection specified on the map (which I can no longer zoom in on, because I don’t have internet in my car…#21st century problems…).

I arrive at the location, and nothing is there except a giant volcanic pit, several Big Bertha backhoes digging their graves, and a spindley little construction stoplight damming up cars all the way to Canada. You decide which part of that is an exaggeration, and which part of that is a bank. Drawing on my deep observational skills, I conclude that I should begin hunting elsewhere for the elusive bank, and set out again, for the banks labelled, respectively, E, J, and G. (That means there’s a lot more alphabet letters out there luring poor suckers into hunting the tribal banks…)

Watch carefully now.

Actual path taken.

The rest is pretty hazy, but there are a few things I remember.

Rumored banks in the area: 3

Actual banks found: 0

List of obstacles on the way to real bank: Big river, construction-cone driving course (professionals only), aforementioned Pit of Doom, the Capitol building, stoplights that never turn green, streets with multiple personalities that change names without warning, shiny distracting statues of famously dead people.

Actual bank found after accosting a real person on his smoke break: 1. “But I think it might be closed.”

Out of the pity of God, I finally find the bank. It was not even on the map. I scramble out of my car, weaving across the parking lot in an exhausted zigzag. A sign firmly tells me that the bank has closed 15 minutes earlier. Which would have been right between the “heading north for 10 miles before deciding I’ve gone too far” and the “pulling over next to nice house in the hopes that they’ll let me use their free WiFi from the road.” Neither of which worked very well.

At this point I am considering taking the heaviest thing out of my trunk (my sewing machine) and smashing the bank’s glass doors down. It would have been spectacular. You would have seen it on the news.

But a small pinprick of light is trickling–nay, cackling–down from above: the space-age drivethru is still open! I march back toward my car–whoops, nope, my car, sorry sir–and turn it on and back it around and pull into the drivethru and wait. The line is long. It is hot out. Google maps has deserted me. My computer has died. All I can find is a pencil. I sign my checks with what I want to be a flourish. My signature looks like I’m four.

And then this actual conversation happens between me and nice teller via the little space-age tubes:

Me: “Um, how do I use this?” (Remember, I don’t get out much.)

Teller: “Put your stuff in it and push the button.”

Me: “Okay…” (Not okay. Not. okay.)

Teller: “You’ll need to add it up on the deposit slip.”

Me: “What if I can’t do math today?”

Actual amount of time spent looking for a bank only 20 minutes from home: 1.5 hours.

Then I drove the 20 minutes home. Watched six episodes of The Nanny. And ate peanut butter out of the jar with a spoon.

[You’d think I wouldn’t try again, but apparently I’m young and stupid and part 3 also happened.]